Somatostatin is an inhibitory peptide, which regulates the release of several hormones, and affects neurotransmission and cell proliferation via its five Gi protein-coupled receptors (SST1-5). Although its endocrine regulatory and anti-tumour effects have been thoroughly studied, little is known about its effect on the vascular system. The aim of the present study was to analyse the effects and potential mechanisms of somatostatin on endothelial barrier function. Cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) express mainly SST1 and SST5 receptors. Somatostatin did not affect the basal HUVEC permeability, but primed HUVEC monolayers for thrombin-induced hyperpermeability. Western blot data demonstrated that somatostatin activated the phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways by phosphorylation. The HUVEC barrier destabilizing effects were abrogated by pre-treating HUVECs with mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase/extracellular signal regulated kinase (MEK/ERK), but not the Akt inhibitor. Moreover, somatostatin pre-treatment amplified vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced angiogenesis (3D spheroid formation) in HUVECs. In conclusion, the data demonstrate that HUVECs under quiescence conditions express SST1 and SST5 receptors. Moreover, somatostatin primes HUVECs for thrombin-induced hyperpermeability mainly via the activation of MEK/ERK signalling and promotes HUVEC proliferation and angiogenesis in vitro.
Keywords: Akt; MAPK; MYPT1; RhoA/Rock; angiogenesis; cAMP; endothelial permeability; somatostatin receptors.